The 1999 Rolf Schock Prizes

Four international prizes in logic and philosophy, mathematics, the visual arts and in music are awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts and The Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

The prizewinners will receive their prizes at a ceremony in Stockholm on 3 November 1999. The prizes amount to SEK 400 000 in each field and are awarded:

In logic and philosophy to John Rawls, Professor emeritus at Harvard University, USA, for his book A Theory of Justice, which has constituted a renewal of normative ethics and political philosophy and has in an essential way contributed to the methodology of normative ethics.

In mathematics to Yuri Manin, Professor at the Max Planck institute for mathematics, Bonn, Germany, (Russian citizien) for his important work in algebraic geometry and mathematical physics, in particular for those fundamental papers he has recently published about quantum groups and mirror symmetry.

For the visual arts to the architect team of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland, for architectural achievements that interpret programme and site with great artistic integrity.

In music to the Kronosquartet, San Francisco, USA, for its achievement in promoting the creation of a new string quartet repertoire and communicating that repertoire, together with earlier works, to new audiences. During the twenty-five and more years of its existence, and without compromising on its fundamental principles of quality, the Kronosquartet has been an eminent and conscious transcender of boundaries in time and space and between musical traditions and social environments.

For further information please contact:
Prof. Dag Prawitz, Dept. of Philosophy, Stockholm University
Tel +46-8-16 33 60, 662 79 97 (home)
Prof. Torsten Ekedahl, Dept. of Mathematics, Stockholm University
Tel +46-8-16 45 26
Secretary General Bo Grandien, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts
Tel +46-8-23 29 45 or +46-8-16 33 54
Secretary General Bengt Holmstrand, The Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Tel +46-8-611 57 20.

The prize in logic and philosophy
John Rawls’s theory of justice stands out as one of the major contributions to philosophy of this century. It is important, not only because of its much discussed principles of justice, but also because of the way it argues for them. Rawls gets the prize not least because of his methodological contributions, which amount to a theory about how moral and normative statements can be justified.

This theory of how moral standpoints can be rationally supported stands in contrast to value nihilism in particular, according to which it simply is not possible to argue rationally for or against a normative position. This was an attitude taken by logical empiricism among others and it has been widespread in the human and social sciences.

Rawls’s works, in particular his main book A Theory of Justice published 1971, breaks with this tradition. The book argues energetically and rationally for certain substantial principles of justice. The great interest in ethical discussions among philosophers and social scientists in the last half of this century is partly due to Rawls’s influence; his book constitutes a turning point and has been an important source of inspiration for the revitalization of normative ethics.

There are two fundamental principles of justice in Rawls’s theory. The first principle says that each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive system of basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all. The second principle says among other things that social and economical values are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution is to the benefit of the least advantage. These principles have not been unchallenged but have given rise to a very extensive discussion.
Rawls is professor emeritus since 1991, but he is still philosophically active. His latest book Political Liberalism, which was published 1993, develops further and modifies some of the positions in A Theory of Justice and also takes up new themes.

John Rawls was born in 1921 and came to Harvard as professor of philosophy in 1962, only 41 years old. 1979 he got the status of University Professor. He got his Ph. D. at Princeton 1950, where he then taught as instructor for a couple of years. In the years 1952 to 1962 he was at Cornell University, first as associate professor and then as professor of philosophy.

The prize in mathematics
Yuri Manin has published several mathematical papers covering many fundamental results, ranging from the proof of a variant of a conjecture by Mordell, counter-examples to the Lüroth theorem in higher dimensions (together with Iskovskih), the study of diophantine equations, p-adic analysis and modular forms in pure mathematics to the study of solutions of Yang-Mills equations and their relations with 4-dimensional manifolds, the theory of quantum groups and mirror symmetry (some of the last ones with Kontsevich) in mathematical physics. He has also great philosophical interests.

Yuri Manin was born in 1937 in Simferopol (then in the Soviet Union, now in Ukraine). He studied mathematics at Moscow University and received his PhD degree in 1960 at the Steklov Institute for mathematics in Moscow. He was professor in mathematics at Moscow University 1965-1991. Since 1993 he has a permanent position at the Max-Planck-Institute for mathematics in Bonn, Germany.

The prize for the visual arts
The architect team of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron has in a series of projects, both realised and not realised, treated the interior and the outer shell of buildings in new ways. Known materials, often strikingly simple, have been used to arouse feelings and questions in a way that resembles modern painting. Even prosaic projects such as warehouses, signalboxes and factories are designed in the relevant materials and with economy, but endowed with the poetry of artistic objects. Here may be mentioned the central signalbox at Basel Railway Station, erected in 1994-95. A membrane of thin copper strip gives to the volume a lightness that contrasts effectively with the rusty steel of the rest of the station.

The contrasting of nature and culture is investigated and shown off in a series of projects. This emerges clearly in the Riccola Europe factory and warehouse in Mulhouse-Brunnstatt, 1994, where walls of etched leaf themes by the photographer Karl Bolssfeldt and moistened concrete with moss interact with park-like surroundings of natural beauty.

Herzog and de Meuron work with geometrically clearly defined volumes which through the polyvalence of their surfaces alternate between lightness and transparency on the one hand, density and heaviness on the other. The simple building bodies with their obvious spatial organisation contrast with and bring into focus the combined surface to counteract the risk of aridity and plainness. In the Dominius Winery in Yountville, California, 1997 the simple concrete building for storing the wine is clad in the dark local stone graded to generate several densities in the facade. Some of the stones are open in texture and diaphanous, others dense and concealing. An example of these architects’ interest in the intricately worked building shell is the competition project for a Greek Orthodox church in Zürich. Here a semi-transparent glass box surrounds several inner glass boxes with an interior effect marked by the gilt icon prints (reminiscent of Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein) that cover the whole of the walls. Here the naive tone of the icon painting is disarmed at just the point where this painting forms the basis for the dazzling sunset glory of the interior – all created in convincing minimalist architecture.

In the work of these two architects there are hints of references to other works. The Villa Riehen, outside Basel, echoes with Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoy and with Mies van der Rohe and Adlof Loos. Modernism is contradicted by an entrance court cut into the ground and by transforming Le Corbusier’s white surfaces into black wood. The gardens side consists of a hovering parallelepiped opening contact with an inner atrium. Large sliding glass surfaces achieve diagonal experiences of opposite rooms. The details are executed with great precision.

Among better-known works by Herzog and de Meuron may be noted the exquisite dwelling houses with facades and balconies of wood in a rear garden in Basel, 1984, and the new modern arts building for the Tate Gallery in London, 1995-99.

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were both born in Basel, Switzerland in 1950. 1975 they got their degree in architecture at the Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule, Zürich, Switzerland. The office of Herzog and Meuron was established in 1978 in Basel. Nowadays they have also offices in Munich and London.

The prize in music
David Harrington founded the Kronosquartet in 1973, and its present membership dates from 1978. From the very outset, Harrington actively pursued contacts with composers, developing close co-operation, for example, with Terry Riley and other American composers. True to the global spirit so typical of the Kronosquartet, this interface rapidly expanded. Gradually the Quartet has come to focus attention on composers from environments – Zimbabwe and Azerbaijan, for example – where, at first, one hardly have expected string quartets to be composed at all. A CD made in 1992 is devoted entirely to African composers. With the passing years, more than 400 works have been composed or arranged for the Kronosquartet by composers in all five continents. The Quartet’s repertoire also includes arrangements of jazz and rock classics, composed for example by musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Thelonius Monk and Bill Evans, as well as tangos by bandoneone master Astor Piazzolla.

The outgoing attitude of the Quartet has enabled them to achieve one of their prime ambitions – that of reaching and enthusing new, young audiences for chamber music, both classical and modern. Every year they give more than a hundred concerts, many of which are combined with educational activities such as discussions with audiences and master classes, but they also give straight school concerts and take part in outreach activities. Many of their concerts, of course, take place in concert halls, but they are equally at home in clubs and at jazz festivals.

Six of their 27 record releases to date have been nominated for the Grammy award.

David Harrington, the Quartet’s first violinist, once expressed his objectives in the following terms: “I have always wanted a string quartet to be dynamic, a living bundle of energy, but also “cool”, not afraid of kicking ass and being wonderfully beautiful and ugly, if the occasion demands. But it has to be expressive of life, capable of presenting its story pleasantly, with humour and depth. And of telling all – if that be possible.”

Members of the Quartet:
David Harrington, first violin, b. Portland, Oregon, 1949. Initiator of the Kronosquartet and its artistic Director, prior to which he taught at a number of highly regarded conservatories and colleges in Canada and the USA.
John Sherba, second violin, b. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1954. Studied at the University of Wisconsin, where his chamber music teachers included members of the Fine Arts Quartet and the Chicago Symphony Quartet, while also attending Isaac Stern’s master classes.
Hank Dutt, viola, b. Muscatine, Iowa, 1952. Took his Master of Music degree at Indiana University, Bloomington. Chamber music studies under Professor Joseph Gingold, among others, and in close contact with the Tokyo Quartet.
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello, b. Memphis, Tennessee, 1956. After taking her Bachelor of Music at Indiana University, she continued her studies in Europe, partly with Pierre Fournier in Geneva. Ms Jeanrenaud has taken a sabbatical year for 1999, with Jennifer Culp as her stand in. She comes from Castro Valley, California. At present she is also a member of the Empyrean Ensemble, an eminent American group for contemporary music, as well as teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Holy Names College and Mills College.

Rolf Schock
Rolf Schock was born in France on 5 April 1933. His parents, Adolf Gustav Schock and Pauline Schock (née Luce), had emigrated from Germany in 1931, and settled later in the USA. Rolf Schock, who became an American citizen, went to school in New York and New Jersey. He continued his education at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, where he majored in geology and psychology, and read mathematics as a subsidiary subject. After taking his BA. in 1955 he began postgraduate studies in philosophy at the University of California, first in Berkeley and then in Los Angeles.

In 1960 Schock moved to Sweden, where he pursued his studies in philosophy at the Stockholm University, taking the degree of Fil. Lic. in 1964. During his studies in Los Angeles, where he was influenced by the American philosopher Richard Montague, he developed what was to become a lifelong interest in logic and its application to philosophy. He was especially interested in certain deviant logics that make no existence assumptions, and wrote a dissertation on this topic, for which he was awarded the degree of Ph.D. at Uppsala University in 1968. This study, Logics without Existence Assumptions, was an early work in what is now known as free logic, and it has often been cited by scholars in this field. In addition he wrote many other works in logic and philosophy of science, including several books and a large number of articles in international journals.

After taking his doctorate Schock became docent at Uppsala University in 1969. He held lectureships for a brief period at the universities of Uppsala and Stockholm, and for many years the Royal Institute of Technology provided him with a base. Never getting a permanent appointment, he led a very simple life as an independent scholar, devoted to his research in logic and related areas of philosophy. Having studied art at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, he was a keen painter. Some of his pictures were exhibited in Stockholm. He was also a keen photographer and traveller.

Rolf Schock died in an accident on 5 December 1986. After his death it came as a surprise to most of his colleagues that he had left a considerable fortune, which he had inherited from his father, and had bequeathed half of it for prizes in the arts and sciences.

The Will
In his will Dr. Rolf Schock specified that half of his estate should be used to fund four prizes in the fields of logic and philosophy, mathematics, the visual arts and music. It was his wish that the prizes in logic and philosophy and in mathematics should be awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and those in the visual arts and music by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music respectively.

Accepting this task, the three academies appointed committees to assist in the selection of prize winners, and to administer the endowment a trust, The Schock Foundation, was set up.

Beginning in 1993, prizes are awarded every two years. In years when awards are made, the prize winners are chosen at plenary sessions of the academies in spring, and the prizes are awarded at a joint ceremony in the autumn. Each prize is at present SEK 400,000.